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Lot # 821 (of 1641)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Fred Goldsmith Signed Autograph Album Page - Staking Rightful Claim as Inventor of the Curveball!

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,896

Album sheet, removed from the legendary autograph album compiled by Dr. John O'Meara in the 1930s, signed by Fred Goldsmith, the first player to publicly demonstrate a curve ball. Dr. John O'Meara was an early hobby pioneer in the field of autograph collecting. A resident of Providence, Rhode Island, O'Meara was not simply a fan, but an astute historian of the game and his collection included a vast array of correspondence from ballplayers past and present, including George Wright, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth, and Ty Cobb. One of his greatest collecting achievements was the compilation of one of the finest baseball autograph albums ever assembled. Robert Edward Auctions had the privilege of selling that album in our May 2009 auction. At the time of the sale, our consignor made the decision to remove sixteen pages from the album (featuring some of the rarest and most important signatures contained therein) and sell them individually. Each of the removed pages was then encapsulated by Beckett/JSA. The offered page is one of the sixteen special pages taken from the O'Meara album that was then sold by REA in 2009, and it is arguably the most historically significant of all. This sheet appeared as Lot 973 and realized a final sales price of $1,763.
This signed sheet is of extraordinary historical significance with reference to the invention of the curveball. Although Goldsmith's signature in any form is extremely rare (he died in 1939 at the age of eighty-three), this sheet is as important to historians as it is to autograph collectors due to the fact that Goldsmith, in addition to signing the page, has also clearly, in his own hand, staked his claim as the rightful inventor of the curveball. Like many aspects of baseball, including its origins, the invention of the curveball has long been the subject of great controversy. From the earliest days in which the issue was even considered by scholars, dating back to the turn of the century and before, two candidates vied for this honor among historians of the game: Fred Goldsmith and Candy Cummings.
In his lengthy inscription on this sheet, which fills the entire page, Goldsmith writes: "F. E. Goldsmith Chicago White Socks [sic] winner of six Worlds Championships. Originator of first curve ball. Made a public demonstration on the old Capitoline Grounds, N. Y. on Aug 27th 1870. Born at New Haven, Con., May 15, 1854. Birmingham Mich.’ Both the signature and text are scripted in blue fountain pen and grade "10." To the day he died, Fred Goldsmith always strongly maintained that he, not Candy Cummings, invented the curveball. Despite the fact that most books today credit Cummings with having been the originator of the curveball, Goldsmith's claim had great merit. He had many supporters who shared his view. In fact, the one fact that is universally agreed upon is that Goldsmith was the first player to publicly demonstrate the curveball. As he notes here, that event took place on the Capitoline Grounds in New York in 1870. His later mastery of the pitch made him one of the top pitchers in the game during the 1880s. Goldsmith won twenty or more games in four consecutive seasons with the Chicago White Stockings and in 1880 his winning percentage of .875 was the best in the National League. Ironically, in 1939, the year in which Goldsmith died, Candy Cummings was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame primarily on the basis of his having invented the curveball. We know that O'Meara compiled this album in the 1930s; therefore Goldsmith's entry was obtained just shortly before his passing. It is interesting to note that Goldsmith's recollection of specific dates appeared to be faltering. According to all published reports, his demonstration on the Capitoline Grounds took place on August 16, 1870, not August 27th as he states. Famed baseball writer Henry Chadwick was in attendance that day and his observations of Goldsmith's new pitch were published in the Brooklyn Eagle on August 17, 1870. Also, most baseball reference books, based upon census reports, record Goldsmith's year of birth as 1856, not 1854. The page (5.5 x 4.5 inches) has been neatly removed from the original album and is in Near Mint condition. Encapsulated by Beckett Grading Services in conjunction with James Spence Authentication. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,896


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